Eight Women Complete Week One of Army Ranger School

A U.S. Army Soldier conducts a Ranger Physical Assessment during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, GA., April 20, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paul Sale/Released)
A U.S. Army Soldier conducts a Ranger Physical Assessment during the Ranger Course on Fort Benning, GA., April 20, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paul Sale/Released)

Half of the female soldiers who entered the first co-ed class of U.S. Army Ranger School have completed the first week of the traditionally all-male course.

Eight out of 16 female soldiers completed the Ranger Assessment Phase, or RAP week. On the male side, 184 males out of 380 finished RAP.

"This is an overall success rate of 48 percent (48.3 percent for men and 42.1 percent for women) for RAP week and within historic norms for the Ranger course," according to an April 23 Fort Benning, Ga., press release.

A total of 19 women showed up to take part in the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade's first co-ed Ranger course Monday at Fort Benning, but three failed to pass the Ranger Physical Fitness Assessment, a requirement to enter Ranger School.

The remaining 192 males and females now have 57 days to go to complete the physically and mentally punishing infantry course.

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    Senior Army leaders recently decided to allow females to attend the historically male-only, infantry course. The effort is a result of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's January 2013 directive that all services open combat-arms roles to women that so far have been reserved for men. The services have until 2016 to make this happen.

    To get past the first day of RAP, students had perform 49 push-ups in two minutes, 59 sit-ups in two minutes and six chin-ups to strict standard, Ranger officials maintain. They also had to complete a five-mile run in 40 minutes.

    Candidates also had to complete the combat water survival assessment.

    The CWSA consists of a log walk and rope drop where candidates have to scale a ladder 30 feet above the pond, walk up and down a short set of stairs and crawl out onto a rope to a hanging Ranger Tab sign. They do one pull-up and ask permission to drop into the pond before falling into the pond and swimming to the side.

    Then the swim-test portion requires them to go into the water, calmly take off their equipment and swim 15 meters without panic to demonstrate their ability to swim to safety should they get into a position where they are in over their head in the swamps of Florida or anywhere else during training, Ranger officials maintain.

    This was day one of the Ranger Assessment Phase, or Rap week.

    The second morning began with a 10-kilometer, land navigation course. Students have to find four out of five points in five hours – 2.5 hours in the dark and 2.5 hours during daylight.

    Following the land-nav course, students spend the rest of the afternoon crawling through the mud and negotiating other challenges on the Malvesti obstacle course.

    The last hurdle of RAP was a 12-mile road march on Thursday that students had complete in less than three hours, carrying a rifle, fighting load carrier vest and a rucksack weighing approximately 35 pounds, the press release said.

    Like male candidates, female Ranger School students will have to spend long hours weighted down with infantry weapons and equipment on patrols through the thick forests of Fort Benning, and the dense swamps of Camp Rudder, Florida.

    They'll also be expected to climb and rappel in the steep mountain terrain of Camp Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia.

    Ranger School candidates have to endure these challenges on two meals a day while getting three to four hours of sleep a night for eight weeks.

    -- Matthew Cox can be reached at matthew.cox@military.com

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